Like Jeff Atwood, I have have been carrying a USB memory stick for some time now, except that I started at only 32MB ! My current stick can hold 4GB now. Here is a small excerpt of my limited experience :
- U3 was a very bad idea. No, I get this back : it was a very good idea, just very badly implemented. My current choice is the much more open PortableApps, which has the great advantage of making me think that I am the one in charge.
- Hardware must be solid as a rock. For a key to last more than a few months in my pockets, this is an absolute must. I wasted too many too fragile memory sticks already.
- Beware of performance. There are some real differences out there so get the facts before you buy.
But, speaking of performance, I found out the hard way that a single figure for read/write speed was not enough. I use my memory stick, among other things, to store my Mozilla (Firefox+Thunderbird) profiles, so that I can keep my history, my bookmarks and my passwords wherever I go. When my Intuix Smart Drive S300 U3 USB 2.0 - 2 Go decided to give up with life (the plastic case literally crumbled), I decided to buy another stick with the same chip inside, having been satisfied of the reliability and performance of the previous one.
So, I decided for the EMTEC Flash Drive S520 ReadyBoost - 4 Go. But all of a sudden, my Internet experience slowed to a crawl. Performance for the usual transfer of files was excellent, but Thunderbird took an eternity to launch and retrieve my mail. I then download Flash Memory Toolkit, a benchmark utility, to see what was really happening. Are are the results :
See ? The old stick was consistent in writing for all file sizes. The new one was much worse for small ones, and much better for large ones. No wonder that writing cookies took so long ! So when you get the facts for your prospective memory stick, try to get all of them and check if they fit your usage.
So I got the facts much more carefully, and I eventually opted for a OCZ Rally 2 Turbo - 4Go. Like Jeff (size does not matter. Or does it ?). And I browsed happily ever after.